Friday, October 09, 2009

now it feels like i'm in asia

8th October, Wednesday

Ubud – Bali

I arrived to Jakarta on the 6th afternoon, feeling a bit numb after a 14-hour flight. I guess it was more the erratic travels and events that took place before the flight that led to the dizziness more than anything else. In theory I knew that Jakarta was big, however I had no idea how big... 20 million people living in a city cause constant noise, pollution and traffic. The traffic however fees more like a spontaneous dance that is synchronized by some divine power; bicycles, motorbikes, cars, buses, bajaj and other modes of transport that I don't even know their names seem to ignore all traffic rules and drive like mad, however never crash into each other. In addition to the constant honking, there must be some sort of telepathy between Jakarta drivers, as there doesn't seem to be any other way that avoids disastrous crashes and pedestrian fatalities in that city. Baffled, I decided to use taxis as my main mode of transportation as I didn't have enough time to figure out the intricacies of the traffic and join in as a pedestrian.

On my way from the airport to the city, I was lucky to come across a very talkative driver. He asked me many questions to figure out about Turkey, and I asked him a lot about Indonesia. He didn't seem to know much about Turkey besides that it was a Muslim country far away, however very shockingly he asked if “Rüştü the goalkeeper is still actively playing football or if he quit already?” I pretended that I was too baffled to answer, trying to cover up that I had no idea about football. He said he remembers Rüştü from the World Cup because of his saves.

The next day (7th October) I visited the Turkish embassy to do some paperwork with my passport. I must have been the only tourist who visited the embassy in a long time as I was treated really nicely by all staff and had long a conversation. On my way out, I was even given a long-list of paces to visit and things to do in Bali.

My flight to Bali was the same evening, so as soon as I finished the paperwork I got going to the airport. Thanks to the rain, the traffic was more jammed than usual, so the 35km distance from the city center to the airport took us over 1 hour and 40 minutes. It was another good Air Asia flight, the more I fly with them the more I like them. No complications or hassles as everything is made very simple.

I arrived to Bali almost by midnight and it took us a while to find my pension as I didn't take the address or the phone number with me. I guess it's good to feel comfortable while traveling, yet one should still take PNR codes, hotel addresses etc along. I nowadays take only my passport and think the rest can be “sorted out”. Well, it is usually the case, however in Bali it took an extra hour or so to find the place. I was in bed by almost 2 am and for the first time slept very deeply and comfortably after god knows how many days of either no sleep or tossing and turning. Sometime early morning, I heard the roosters and the dogs in the distance but just turned and continued to sleep. I only got off the bed after 12:30pm. The air was fresh, the temperature was just right with very little humidity and no sound besides the crickets. I could feel myself liking this place:)

When I arrive to a place at night, the feeling is usually completely different as I see it the next day with some daylight and action. While I was getting lost turning around the streets the night before I thought Ubud was a very big place which is almost urbanized and felt some disappointment. However the next day, I got the “little town charm” as I was walking down the streets. Well, maybe to be accurate I should say “little charming town with urban traffic”. I am still amazed how these bikes, small trucks, tourist buses and pedestrians live in such a harmony in what appears as a complete chaos to the ignorant eye. I hope my time here will be sufficient to understand the dynamics of the traffic.

I walked more than 5 hours in the streets to get a feel of Ubud and ended my day with a 2-hour massage session. I still couldn't figure out where the Yoga Barn is but that may be the first thing to do tomorrow, followed by finding the “fruit lady” for this town. As I intend to stay over a month, it's good to be acquainted with the landmarks and things to do so I can arrange my accommodation and activities accordingly. So far I intend to take up Balinese massage, Scuba diving and Batik.

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